California Gov. Jerry Brown on July 1 signed six gun-control bills into law, including new restrictions on semi-automatic rifles and a requirement that ammunition purchasers undergo background checks, saying they will help “enhance public safety” in California, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brown moved quickly after the legislature passed the measures, not allowing time for public input to his office before taking action.
The governor’s action comes one day after the Legislature approved a dozen gun-control bills.
“My goal in signing these bills is to enhance public safety by tightening our existing laws in a responsible and focused manner, while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners,” Brown wrote in his signing message.
The action appeared to be a subtle shift for Brown, whose complicated record on gun control has been marked by skepticism about whether many proposals increase public safety without infringing on the rights of law-abiding gun owners, The Times noted.
The National Rifle Assn. Institute for Legislative Action accused the governor, who is a gunowner himself, of exploiting the terrorist attacks for political gain.
“Gov. Jerry Brown today signed a draconian gun control package that turns California’s law-abiding gun owners into second-class citizens,” said Amy Hunter, California spokesperson for the group. “The governor and Legislature exploited a terrorist attack to push these measures through even though the state’s already restrictive laws did nothing to stop the attack in San Bernardino.”
The bills signed by Brown include a ban on the sale of semiautomatic rifles equipped with so-called “bullet buttons” that allow the removal and replacement of magazines.
Brown’s office noted that Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has qualified a more expansive gun control measure for the November ballot.
“The governor took swift action today and voters will have a chance to go even further in November, if they choose, with the lieutenant governor’s initiative,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.
Newsom, who had criticized the Legislature’s proposals as falling short of his proposed initiative, cast the governor’s actions as a start of reform that his ballot measure would complete.
Along with the ammunition bills he signed, Brown endorsed legislation that will prohibit long guns with “bullet buttons” that make it easier for shooters to reload, strip a resident’s gun rights for 10 years as punishment for knowingly filing a false report of a gun loss or theft, and limit the lending of guns to family members who have not completed California’s extensive background checks.
Meanwhile, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the gun industry, said the bills would “affect law-abiding Californians while doing nothing to stop the criminal misuse of firearms.”
See related opinion piece A Sweep of Every House in this issue.